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Tiplet: Felting & KoolAid Dye

October 4th, 2011 at 00:57 am » Comments (2)

It is always amazing how one discussion leads to another. What started in Crochet Partners as a request for suggestion on wool for a toddler hat, evolved into some great comments on felting.

One of the best was a very basic summary of how to felt, by machine.

And I thank Marty for reminding me of a Tiplet I wanted to share during the last felting discussion.

It is one of those things you pick up when you come at something from a different direction.

So many new people have come to felting by way of Knit or Crochet – that they may have never really learned the basics the way a traditional felter, spinner or weaver does.

I have never quite understood why so many people seem to need to do multiple “washing” – in fsct almost every set of directions you read relating to felting Knit or Crochet, seems to mention multiple runs thru their machine.

So WHY is that not the case for me ?!*? Well, sometimes literally is something in the water, but that effects dying and bread rising more often than not.

So in that “semi conscious” time of the morning, I suddenly realized that what was missing from most if not all of the commonly available instructions for “Machine Felting” of Knot or Crochet (or wovens for that matter) as PRE-Soaking –

Both Felting and Kool-Aid Dyeing require you to presoak, in lukewarm is best, for at least 30 minutes. This helps to get all the fibers possible “opened” and thus more likely to felt or accept the dye.

For felting, my usual method is to fill a bucket with warm to almost hot water in the slop sink next to the washing machine about 1/2 full. Give it a squirt of my “ivory soap” liquid, stir and then use a long dowel or wooden spoon to gently submerge the item. I “weight it” to it stay under water with a heavy dinner plate.

If it won’t stay down, Jaquie Carey’s acrylic covered Kumihimo bobbins add weight to the plate and since they are completely covered in a relatively non-reactive coating (as may be some others).

After about 10 minutes, with the plate still in place, Add a tea kettle of hot water – pour it slowing over the plate so that you are not hitting the fibers directly with the changed temperature.

When the water reaches room temp, the fibers should be nice and open and you are ready to add it to the wash, draining option. We have an unfinished floor with the drain located near the slop sink, so no matter if it gets a bit sloppy. I like to add a sneaker or two to help with the agitation part of the process.

Wash on Hot, Rinse on Cold and you get your temperature change. Some advise to check on the piece from time to time, but admittedly I do not. Instead I am careful to be there when the spin ends so I can remove and shape the project before putting it into the dryer. That is when I do check it about every 15 minutes – shaping if needed, until dry.

Pre-Soaking KA – Mix the Kool-Aid into rather warm water, add the yarn or fibers (again making sure they are submerged, same tricks but usually smaller plate will work.) Soak for about 15-30 minutes until water cools. Now follow whatever felting works best for you.

Here is the link to the first of my Kool-Aid articles or use the Kool-Aid Category.

Enjoy The Making


More on Kool-Aid

April 20th, 2007 at 06:44 am » Comments (0)

In response to several direct questions about yarns/fibers & where my information came from besides “experimenting” with Kool-Aid, Easter Egg Dyes & other drink mixes for dyeing, and as the discussion of as a dye seems to be a perennial discussion; it seemed worth mentioning that my results were based on “fiber” meaning hunks of clean stuff that was not yet yarn
visit Kool-Aid Man

I was cleaning my hard drive and found a copy of the 1999 UseNet Kool-Aid FAQ – admittedly many of the links need to be eliminated, and there is not a whole lot about dyeing

It is completely correct that only Protein based fibers will take up Kool-Aid like a dye, it does not limit you to sheeps wool. Some fibers take color more easily than others.
Sheep & Goat (Mohair) work the best.

You can also dye Rabbit (Angora), Camelids (Llama & Alpaca), Worm Spit (Silk) and more.

As others have mentioned, you can have some fun over-dyeing other yarns, and the protein fiber content will, with varying degrees of intensity “take the color”.

White yarn, because it often requires more caustic processing in order to remove the natural color, does not always take the dye as well.

Yarns which have been treated to be labeled as “Super-Wash” or “Machine Washable” also may not take dye as well as you might hope.

When I first got crazed by Kool-Aid Dyeing I happened to live in Westchester County, home of General Foods (now Kraft) and when answering an ad about a spinning wheel for sale, met and became friends with a GF Chemical Engineer (isn’t it amazing how people we “need” seem to come into our lives, just when we need them)

This gentleman was fascinated by the idea that Spinners were dyeing fibers with KA to make yarns and gave me a great deal of “interesting information” about Kool-Aid – along with detailed explanations of why KA was better and why other brands needed the addition of citric acid, vinegar, etc., in order for them to work. (Basically, at the time Kool-Aid was the only one “fortified” with Vitamin C and an ingestible from of Citric Acid was used to accomplish this)

Along with all the other interesting things he shared was his concern that folks would not treat Kool-Aid as carefully as they would any other dye-stuff – applying heat changes chemicals and his concern was that folks would not take care to NOT use the same precautions – (dedicated containers and utensils) they would if using other dyes.

I was really pleased with his comments since they also coincided with my wanting a different (smaller) microwave in the kitchen. Nothing like having one engineer telling another engineer “The girl is right, you need to get a new unit for food preparation and leave the other for the dye process”

In the summer, I like the look of glass containers with bits of fiber, fabric and yarns in their glass bottles, lined up on the part of the deck that gets sun all day – slower but safer.

Many who use the “sun dye” technique will say you MUST cover the jars with black plastic. But then you can’t see what is happening.

My compromise is to cover the table and the lids with black (those great “postal” rubber bands are excellent to secure the plastic, but do get brittle after prolonged exposure to the sun)

This way you can leave the sides uncovered for esthetic reasons, but still get some benefit from the added heat attraction.

Remember, you want to ONLY use UNSWEETENED flavors (unless you want a really nasty mess)
It is up to you, but the PH of your local water supply also effects your results, so it may be that you will need to use distilled water for best and most consistent results.

Or maybe this year, the kids would like to try making Play Dough colored by Kool-Aid.

Now if Mother Nature would just cooperate, I could get on with the testing of new colors The deck looks so dull without its happily colored jars of yarn and fibers and fabrics.


Kool-Aid Dyeing & Nothing Ever Disappears from the Internet

February 20th, 2007 at 15:52 pm » Comments (3)

So I have been housebound. And I couldn’t find my notes, so I did a search on the Internet and came up with a copy of something I first wrote in the Compuserve Craft forums years earlier and apparently later shared on the original/before yahoo weaving list
Didn’t eve need a trip through the way back machine

Proving yet again that nothing every goes away once ‘published’ on line.

More importantly, I needed a lazy way to get some colors “in between” those included in Clovers selection – I know I could have blended the fiber, but I did mention lazy right?

My plan is to try it in the coming weeks with Each of Brown Sheep & Kraemer’s PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) wool yarn & roving.

From WHEATCARR Sun May 28 17:59:48 1995
Subject: Kool Aid Info

Mohair positively inhales and reverberates with whatever color you use. Wool can be very nice, but slightly less intense. Silk worked but only with very strong solutions, maybe 2-3 pkgs per 1/2 oz. Cotton, flax, etc, do not take the color very well unless it is a kid communion outfit (stains ).

Although it does work, I have not been pleased with the results when I used already spun yarns, either my own or some commercially done.

My best color and nicest KA yarns results were accomplished by:

* Washing fibers in Ivory Laundry Liquid
* Blending white wool/mohair approximately 50-50

Drum carded fibers took the color much more evenly, although drum carding or combing of locks before spinning will easily blend shadings.

Plan 1/2 oz blend per package of KA. More KA if darker color preferred.

After blending the fibers, pre-soak in plain water (some like to add 1/2 c vinegar) for at least 10-15 minutes.

Dissolve 1 package of Kool Aid into 1.5 quarts of water. Add presoaked fiber. Microwave on high for approximately 6 minutes or until all color has been absorbed and the water is clear. (Berry Blue and one other will not go clear; the water gets a milky white color.) Remove, and dry.

My color chart for KA includes the three new colors recently found; I would be interested in hearing of others.

You may very well become obsessed with the processes (I did last year) to be described. BUT your house will smell very nice if somewhat fruity.

Thus far I have discovered the following color names:

Kool Aid flavor Mohair color
Berry Blue *** Robin’s egg blue
Black Cherry Burgundy


Christmas red



Great Bluedini



Pinky orange

Kickin’ Kiwi-Lime

Light chartreuse green


Pale, baby yellow


Bright Christmas green


Salmon pink

Oh Yeah-Orange Pineapple

Light golden yellow




Bright, golden yellow

Pink Swimingo

Coral pinks

PurpleSaurus Rex

Lighter purple


Darker purplish pinks
Rockadile Red Fire engine red

Sharkleberry Fin



Light pinks

Tropical Punch

Deep reds

Just a last note of caution – DO NOT USE pre-sweetened KA or Jello – yes you get the colors and a yucky mess of nicely colored fibers. However, Korwyn Winde recently mentioned in the Textile Arts Forum of Delphi about using Jello both as a dye and warp sizing. I have not tried this.

If there are more, I would love to hear about it.

*** Berry Blue Kool Aid has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but is available in Jello.

Note added, April 8, 1998: As you can tell from the date, this information is several years old, and some of the color information is now obsolete.

Note added, got some started, and just had to mention, I had forgotten how good it makes your house smell

Now if the glacier in the driveway would just melt so I can get to the store, I could get more “dye” and see how the new colors work up.

If you’ve been experimenting, I’d love to hear your “results”.

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